Pregame: Another washout

The view from the press box at Nationals Park shows storm clouds over the Capitol dome.
The view from the press box at Nationals Park shows storm clouds over the Capitol dome.

WASHINGTON — As I was riding to Nationals Park this morning, the cab driver asked me why I was going there. “You know, there’s no ballgame today,” he said. Huh?

Turns out the Nationals banged the game about 9:30 a.m. because of a large, nasty line of thunderstorms that are expected to stick around all day.

“To show up at the park and already know the game is cancelled is kind of weird,” said right-hander Charlie Morton.

Morton, who was supposed to start today, will instead pitch tomorrow against the Reds. His previous start Friday against the Dodgers was rained out after two innings.

“He’s thrown his sides, he’s stayed in rhythm as much as you can control and he’ll pitch tomorrow,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Don’t make any more of it than what it is.”

As I type this, it is 1:13 p.m. — eight minutes after the game was scheduled to start — and not a drop of rain has fallen.

The makeup date has not yet been announced. It’s a good bet the Pirates and Nats will play a doubleheader July 2 at Nationals Park.

»»» The one plus to the rainout is it gives the overworked bullpen some time to regroup. “We were getting a little itchy out there,” Hurdle said. “We had a couple guys yesterday that we wanted to stay away from.”

»»» Right-hander Daniel McCutchen is now a short reliever, replacing slumping righty Chris Resop. McCutchen’s first outing in his new role came Sunday, when he worked a scoreless eighth inning against the Brewers.

“I’ve been locating my pitches well and I’ve had multiple pitches working,” McCutchen said. “I’m pretty confident right now.” McCutchen has allowed one earned run in 17 innings.

»»» Evan Meek (shoulder) is scheduled to pitch an inning tonight for Triple-A Indianapolis. It will be the second appearance of his rehab assignment. “We’ll evaluate how he feels,” Hurdle said. “We want to be smart. We’ve kind of got training wheels on (Dan) Moskos, bringing him along slowly, and (Jose) Ascanio coming back. Throwing back-to-back days is something (Ascanio) has only done once this season and he wasn’t healthy when he did it, so it wasn’t very good. We’ll take it one step at a time, see how Meek throws today and how he feels after that.”

»»» Monday, the Pirates had 10 hits but scored just two runs. They were 2 for 12 with RISP, and failed to score in four innings with a runner at second base. “Our production has been pretty consistent, but we need more,” Hurdle said. “We still have to answer the bell with runners in scoring position. That’s been the theme for six weeks. Look for a spot, look for a zone. Don’t change lanes every pitch. Look for one thing in one spot, and if it’s not there, make an adjustment with two strikes. Hit with confidence. Hit with bad intentions.

»»» Righty Philip Irwin gave up one unearned run Monday while tossing five innings for High-A Bradenton. Irwin, a 21st-round pick in 2009, has a 0.82 and a .158 batting average against through five starts.

»»» The Pirates have allowed nine homers in their past four games. That has accounted for 13 of the 26 runs scored by opponents in that stretch.